THE RSPCA is urging small pet owners across the south west to take steps to keep animals and wildlife safe this winter.

The animal charity is asking the public to keep an eye out for particular smaller pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or degus for example - and if temperatures start to drop below freezing, it is urged these animals are moved inside, or provided extra bedding to create warmer conditions.

Wildlife birds may also struggle to find food during the winter months. Householders can leave out extra food for them - including suitable seeds and grains such as oats and sunflower seeds; cooked pasta or rice; boiled potatoes, cheese, or uncooked unsalted bacon rind; raisins and sultanas; net-free fat or suet balls; apples, pears or soft fruits.

Adam Grogan, head of wildlife at the RSPCA, said: "As the weather turns colder it's important to think about how we can ‘join the winter rescue’ and help our animal friends. A few little changes to your everyday routine can really make a difference to animals.

"For example, a little bit of extra food left out for a hungry bird may be the help it needs to last through a spate of frosty weather."

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